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For The Garden

Sun-Loving Container Succulents

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: May, 2012, Page 116
MEDICINAL ALOE
(Aloe vera)


FAB FOUR

MEDICINAL ALOE
(Aloe vera)


Type: Perennial succulent

Blooms: Late winter to summer; yellow

Size: 1-2'H and 3’W (plant), 2-3'H (stalk)

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water needs: Although it survives without water, it does best with moderate watering.

Maintenance: Remove spent flower stalks. Cover or bring indoors if frost is predicted.

Attracts: Hummingbirds

Note: Its leaves can be cut open and the gel inside used to help heal wounds.

Why we like it: Its attractive flower spikes make this aloe a standout in the garden. It thrives in containers and generates lots of “pups”—or offsets—for replanting.



FIRESTICKS PLANT
(Euphorbia tirucalli v. rosea)
FIRESTICKS PLANT
(Euphorbia tirucalli v. rosea)


Type: Perennial succulent

Blooms: Late spring to early summer; red foliage (flowers are insignificant)

Size: 2-3'H and 12-18"W

Soil: Well-drained and nutrient-rich

Light: Morning sun and afternoon shade

Water needs: Moderate; avoid over-watering

Note: If the stems burn in the sun and turn orange, move plant to a shadier spot to recover. Be careful of its milky white sap, which may cause skin irritation.

Why we like it: Grown for its showy foliage, this heat- and drought-tolerant plant is a knockout in the garden. It is easy to grow and does well in containers.



ELEPHANT’S FOOD
(Portulacaria afra)
ELEPHANT’S FOOD
(Portulacaria afra)


Type: Perennial succulent

Blooms: Summer; inconspicuous light-pink flowers

Size: Up to 12'H and 12'W (but usually smaller)

Soil: Well-drained, light soil

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water needs: Every two weeks in summer, less in winter

Maintenance: Prune as needed or to remove frost-damaged foliage in early spring.

Note: Elephant’s food is a good choice for bonsai and grows well in pots. It also can be used as an accent shrub or for an informal hedge.

Why we like it: It is one of the easiest-to-grow succulents. Fast-growing and low-water-use, this plant has attractive red branches that stand out against tiny jade-like leaves.



BLUE ELF ALOE
(Aloe ‘Blue Elf’)
BLUE ELF ALOE
(Aloe ‘Blue Elf’)


Type: Perennial succulent

Blooms: Winter to spring; orangish-red

Size: 1-2'H and 2'W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water needs: Occasional to infrequent irrigation

Maintenance: Remove spent flower blooms.

Attracts: Hummingbirds

Note: Can be grown in deep shade, but it will not flower.

Why we like it: The silver-blue leaves of this clumping aloe provide a bold backdrop for its long-blooming flowers. This drought-tolerant variety is ideal for xeriscapes and rock gardens, as well as a potted specimen plant, or as a ground cover when planted
in mass.

Other Favorites:
Aloe ferox, Cheiridopsis denticulata, coral aloe, Dykia sp., Euphorbia resinifera, finger aloe, Puya mirabilis, slipper plant
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